Father’s Day 2024: How You Can Change Lives and Support Fathers

As we celebrate Father’s Day, we honor Baranon Houdou, a parent who is persevering to reach his potential and provide a better life for his family.

Baranon sits on a mat with his three children in Benin. (TechnoServe) Part of a blog post to support fathers on Father's Day.

Support Fathers: Building a Life of Purpose

Baranon Houdou, a father of three living in Tchaourou, Benin, begins his day early. The 28-year-old rises at 5:30 a.m. to pray at the mosque and then walks to his farm. He checks on his nine bee hives, arranged in lines among the brush and trees. Once his family is awake, he returns home for a breakfast of porridge.

He sits with his children, watching them play on a mat under the leafy trees surrounding their home. After the family is fed and the house is buzzing, Baranon goes back to his farm to clear the land for corn, cassava, and soybeans. It is a simple start to the day, but it means something important: Baranon’s life is full of purpose.

When Dreams Are Put on Hold: A Father’s Story

At one time, Baranon was frustrated with his life. He had achieved a bachelor’s degree in law but found himself returning to farming. And like his parents, he could barely make it through the year financially with the crop he yielded.

Baranon’s struggle is not uncommon. In Benin, many young people cannot complete their education due to financial constraints. Even those who earn a degree often face the harsh reality of being overqualified for the available job opportunities. This vicious cycle of poverty persists as their low wages make it difficult to provide their children with a better future. 

Support Fathers: Achieving Dreams with BeniBiz

While Benin’s unemployment rate is 2.4%, 72% of the population is underemployed, meaning they are working in underpaid jobs or jobs that do not match their skills. However, many people are finding opportunities in agriculture. Baranon suspected that there was a way he could increase his income through beekeeping and farming. He scoured the internet for solutions. 

It wasn’t until a family friend introduced him to BeniBiz, a TechnoServe program, that he found the answers he was looking for. BeniBiz is a business accelerator that provides food and agribusiness entrepreneurs the training, mentorship, and access to resources to build prosperous businesses, economies, and food-secure communities. The program works in collaboration with the BOP Innovation Center, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Trade and Development, and the Swiss Development Cooperation.

Baranon’s training began with a personality test to determine his strengths. Baranon discovered that he is a “planner.” He identified so much with the criteria of the personality profile that he described it as “magic.” In turn, he learned the value of planning for his goals, explaining, 

Out of everything that BeniBiz taught me, what pleased me the most was [learning] how to manage my time and money. For example, I no longer just get up and throw myself into something without planning. I have to plan what I will earn on a certain date, where I will put it, how much I can take to go out and have fun, and what needs to be saved.”

Baranon, wearing a bright orange shirt, kneels in a lush green field with bee hives in the background, showcasing his beekeeping efforts. (TechnoServe) Part of a blog post to support fathers.
Baranon kneels in a lush green field with bee hives in the background, showcasing his beekeeping efforts. (TechnoServe)

Baranon put these ideas into action when he won 15000 francs ($246) through a business plan competition. Rather than immediately spending the money, he reinvested it into his business. The money allowed him to grow his number of beehives to nine. He understands how critical knowledge is for the long term, saying,

“The money we just won, it’s too little. It’s important, but it’s little. But the knowledge we gained from the training brings in more.”

Baranon received valuable technical training in beekeeping, crop production, and gardening. He learned that his bees could play an important role in improving his crop yields if he took proper care of them. The training also helped the father view himself as an entrepreneur and a businessman.

“When BeniBiz came along, they showed me that I could turn it into a business by improving certain things, by giving it my all, and by setting a goal for myself. I wasn’t a real beekeeper with just my three hives. With BeniBiz… I understood that beekeeping is a profession and that I am an entrepreneur. I learned that I had to arrange my hives well. I learned that I should visit them every day because it’s my business. I have to visit them. Before BeniBiz, it was only at harvest time that I would come to see if there was any honey or not.”

After receiving support from BeniBiz, Baranon grew his honey farm, increasing his honey production from 20 liters to over 100 liters. In the span of a year, his turnover grew 262%. As a result of his increased income, his savings have enabled him to start raising chickens and growing cassava. His new knowledge has also shown him the importance of supporting his wife’s goals. He explains that he now sees her as a partner in business. She has also started her own business selling donuts, which Baranon helps to support.

A Father Leading Change

Baranon’s success is now a source of hope for other young fathers in his community. He manages the rotating savings and credit association (ROSCA) in his village, which pools funds to provide loans to members. With guidance from BeniBiz, he has helped found a second ROSCA association, helping community members save money to finance their own ventures and bring hope to their families.

Young people come to him now wanting to know how they can find similar success. Baranon says that more and more community members are getting involved in business, and the economy is growing. In turn, the culture of the community is changing. Previously, youth in his community would spend their days having useless debates that often turned to violence. Now, Baranon has convinced 12 young men from his village to join the BeniBiz program, and their involvement in business is making an impact. With more meaningful goals to achieve, the violence has lessened significantly. Baranon hopes that more young people will get involved in the local economy, and he strives to be a resource for them. 

As for me, I started small. I hope to be able to grow and recruit other young people. And those from my village who approach me, that I can give them plans to follow and advice to succeed in their lives. That’s the role I want to have and be a leader in my community.”

While he once struggled with hope for his career, Baranon’s life is now full of potential. He has made the most of his training from BeniBiz to build a successful business and become a leader in his community. Most of all, the young father is working hard to provide a better life for his children. With his additional income, he can give his children the greatest gift— sending them to university. This accomplishment will set the stage for the next generation to succeed. 

Baranon, in an orange shirt, pours a sample of honey from a bottle while standing in front of his home, highlighting his beekeeping work. (TechnoServe) 
Baranon pours a sample of honey from a bottle while standing in front of his home, highlighting his beekeeping work. (TechnoServe)

A Father with Purpose: Changing Lives with Your Support

Baranon’s story is a powerful reminder of the immense impact a father’s determination and hard work can have on his family and community. This Father’s Day, consider honoring the father figures in your life who have made sacrifices to provide better opportunities with a donation to TechnoServe. 

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